Baseball tends to be a tighter sport than others when it comes to naming title contenders, but this season might be the most competitive in the history of the Major Leagues. With four teams thought to be ahead of the rest in Major League Baseball, bookmakers are having a hard time figuring out who to favor among the best of baseball's best when setting their World Series odds.
Boston Red Sox
The 2018 World Series champions come into 2019 as the slightest of favorites to repeat their performance last year, with their World Series line sitting as low as +550. When you have the two leaders in the league in batting average coming back for an encore, with Mookie Betts' .346 and JD Martinez's .330 averages topping the league, it would be hard to find a more convincing favorite. But the top of the league around the Sox is so strong that bookmakers are not as convinced as they otherwise would be.
Losing the second-best save producer in the American League could be causing some of the uncertainty around the Sox, as closer Craig Kimbrel's future with the team looks far from guaranteed. The Red Sox still have a chance to bring back the man who racked up 42 saves for them a year ago, but they may be looking elsewhere to reduce their salary burden in 2019, which could derail their attempts at making baseball history by going back-to-back.
New York Yankees
When it comes to World Series betting, the New York Yankees are statistically a good bet in that they have won 27 of them. Heading into 2019, the Yankees are listed as low as +600 to up their tally to 28 titles, but they will face stiff competition led by the division rival Red Sox. The Yankees have made some moves to improve their roster to catch up to Boston, but without the usual splashy signing, one still has to wonder if it will be enough.
The acquisitions of DJ LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino give the team added infield depth and make the game's best bullpen even better. But if the Yankees are going to win the World Series, they are going to do it hitting home runs. They belted 267 home runs last year, 32 more than the next best power hitting team. In the playoffs, where pitching is at its best, home runs are harder to come by. That could be a big reason that this super-talented roster isn't alone at the top of the list of favorites heading into 2019.
With odds as low as +600 to take the 2019 World Series, the Houston Astros have more than enough talent to win right away. Their pitching staff had the league's best-earned run average last year at 3.11, and they are projected to have one of the highest win totals in the league with an over/under that opened around 97.5 wins.
Of course, playing in one of the easier divisions to navigate in baseball is a huge help when it comes to a regular season win total. But the Astros have proven that they can win against the best of the best after a season of beating up on the also-rans of the American League West. With Alex Bregman looking likely to be ready for the start of the season after elbow surgery, the Astros look to have the band back together and should be in the thick of the playoff hunt again.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Despite playing in the National League, where pitchers take up a spot in the batting order, the Dodgers still had over 230 home runs last season to take the second spot in the league. And it's that explosivity that has them with the best World Series money line in the National League, with odds as low as +700 to take the crown.
Losing Manny Machado will hurt the Dodgers here, and it could be why they aren't sitting as clear favorites to win the title, as they are the most likely of the top four teams to get to the World Series. That likelihood is a product of the rest of the National League just not being as strong as the American League, giving the Dodgers fewer places to slip up on their path to another World Series appearance.